6 December 2021

Stranger Danger – How to street-proof children? 

Today’s article is particularly important as we would like to talk about how to make children safe on the street and how to communicate with strangers if they abroach a child.  

As a parent, grandparent, friend, or teacher – you want to teach children to be friendly and polite to other people. That can be tricky if a stranger approaches a child in a very friendly and charming way. Not talking to strangers at all times is also not the right solution. Therefore, children must learn how to talk to them, when it is fine to talk to someone they do not know and when they should not talk to them.  

Especially when the child turns to an age where they walk alone to school, it is necessary to make them street-proof. If a stranger – that your child does not know and has not seen before – tries to talk to them, pretends they know you, offer gifts, or might even offer the child a ride in their car, they should step back and avoid the situation. Furthermore, the child should scream “No” as loud as possible to make others in the surrounding area aware of the situation.  

Most children fear people that are looking mean or have a scary appearance. Nevertheless, nowadays more and more people that are child molesters look like any other person – normal and friendly. That makes it harder for children to differentiate. Therefore, it is important to teach children to trust their own instincts and to walk away if a situation or a person makes them feel uncomfortable. 

Tips to make children ready for the streets 

  • Trust your instincts: If the child does not feel comfortable talking to someone it is okay to run away. 
  • Never approach vehicles: If a vehicle approaches your child, teach them to run in the opposite direction 
  • Yell if you need to: It is okay to yell as loud as possible if a stranger tries to touch or grab your child. 
  • Use passwords: If you as a parent are not able to pick your child up from school, decide together on a password that is easy for them to remember, so if someone else is picking them up from school, they wilk know if they can trust the person by knowing if they know the password.  
  • Emergency Numbers: Teach children the emergency numbers to make sure they can call them if they need any help.  
  • Do not walk alone: Try to avoid that your child is walking around alone. If it is possible, they should always walk in a group of a minimum of 2. It can be together with their friends or an adult.  
  • Teach them regularly: Already from a small age, children should learn the rules on how to behave when talking to someone they do not know. Practice with them dangerous situations on a regular basis.  
  • Remember, adults do not ask children for help: Children must learn that adults do not need their help. If an adult is approaching them and asks for help, children should run and avoid the situation.  
  • Do not go anywhere without the permission of your parents. 

The link to download the tips can be found here.

Tips for parents 

  • Ensure that children know their name, address, telephone number, parents’ names, and places of work.  
  • Young children should hold hands with their parents when walking and should be discouraged from wandering away. 
  • Demand that children check with a parent before accepting gifts or rides from someone, even acquaintances and family friends. Create a family code word that signals the child it is OK to be picked up by another adult in the event of an emergency. 
  • Tell children it is OK to say “no” and respond loudly and physically if someone tries to take them against their will. 

What happens if a child is alone and needs help?

Who do they reach out to? 

If a child is on their own and they need help, it is always advised to look for someone in a uniform, like a police officer, security guard, or post officer. They will be there to help. Is there no person in uniform around? Then the child should look out for grandparents, families with children, women or they should enter a store, or supermarket where the employees could help them out. Nevertheless, remind the child to follow their instincts and if they do not feel comfortable with one person, they should keep on walking and talk to someone else. 

To tutor your children more about street rules, we highly recommend the following video. The video will explain rules on how to protect yourself when being in a situation with a stranger

It is not possible to keep children away from strangers, but it is possible to teach them correctly how to behave. By keeping the following tips in mind, children will stay safe while on the streets as they will have a better understanding of the surroundings and the approaches of strangers.